WARNER ROBINS -- Most of the 60 women who came to Warner Robins for the Georgia Baptist Women’s Engage weekend piled their sleeping bags and luggage at Shirley Hills Baptist Church for an overnight stay.
Some checked into hotels -- but all came with a purpose: to engage with God, with one another and with ministries helping women in crisis.
Their work in Middle Georgia focused on outreach to women involved in prostitution and on helping women facing unplanned pregnancies.
Angela Platt, 24, and a graduate student at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, said she came mainly due to a broken heart.
“It breaks my heart, and I know it breaks God’s heart even more that girls are bought and sold for sex in our culture,” she said. “I know it could be me and I know that they are worth fighting for. That’s mainly why I’m here.”
Women on the Nov. 7-8 weekend had options to take part in a Princess Night outreach with Out of Darkness Middle Georgia that took them to areas of Macon and Warner Robins where prostitution allegedly occurs. They had roses and handwritten encouragement cards to hand out, offered prayer and gave out a hotline number for further help.
Saturday, Out of Darkness took them back to those areas with their Adopt-A-Block program and to a Truckers Against (Human) Trafficking awareness day for drivers coming and going at the Pilot truck stop on Interstate 75.
Others on the weekend worked with Christine Watson of the Middle Georgia Alliance to End Regional Trafficking to deliver posters and educate hotel employees about the indicators of human trafficking they may see among minors and adults passing through their businesses.
Still others worked with Caring Solutions Pregnancy Center in Macon and Warner Robins.
“It was great to have them plug in and be part of what we do,” said Cynthia Smith who leads Out of Darkness Middle Georgia, an organization she said helps reach, rescue and restore minor and adult women trapped in the commercial sex industry.
“The purpose was to raise awareness, educate and let them work alongside us,” she said. “We wanted to show them they can make a difference and that obedience to God in small, loving ways does matter. It was great being part of their weekend and seeing them step out in faith like this.”
Beth Ann Williams, executive director of the Georgia Baptists WMU (Woman’s Missionary Union) and Women’s Ministries department, said her organization sponsored the weekend not only to let women help the local ministries, but also as a way for the WMU to engage with a new generation.
“A critical part of the weekend was that it was for young, 18 to 35-year-old women,” she said. “We wanted to connect with the next generation of Baptist women and connect them to hands-on ministry. They have interests in social justice issues and needs not every church is talking or doing something about. There’s a lot of brave young women out there addressing these issues and being Jesus’ hands and feet. We wanted to help ministries but also give participants time to hear from God about how they can stay involved in their own communities.”
Beverly Skinner, also of Georgia Baptist WMU, was on-site leader of the weekend. She said the weekend was a success.
“The Engage weekend was a first for us,” she said. “Some of the women came to explore and others came because they’re already committed to this type of service. There was a real value in connecting and working together and in letting the women know more about who we (WMU) are and how they can continue to grow and serve. Young women, leaders and future leaders left here seeing they can do some of these things in their own communities.”